Hopefully everyone had a great holiday and a happy New Year! 2012 was a year of many changes especially in the realm of Internet Marketing. There are a few updates, changes, and new strategies that we wanted to recap for you, to make sure your agency is aware of the big social media happenings in 2012, along with provide you with some insight into what will happen in 2013.
The Importance of Images
During the past year, the rise of image centric networks along with image sharing has grown. Sites such as Pinterest have become increasingly popular, with the recent creation of business pages and more companies using the site to showcase images from their blog, show their products, and increase traffic to their site. The network Instagram, which was bought by Facebook for a staggering $1 billion, is also increasing in usage, as brands are using photos to share their story, events, and showcase their products. On Facebook especially, the sharing of images has increased as they have become more prominently displayed in newsfeeds, and the engagement statistics are up to 50% higher. Not only do images make blog posts more likely to be read, but they allow for further social engagement, as we all become more visual.
Social’s Impact on Search
The SEO of your insurance agency’s website used to be mainly focused on keywords used in the content, longevity of your domain, number of pages, and more. These factors are still significant, but social media is becoming an increasingly important factor in a site’s rank and traffic. We have seen evidence in the past year that factors such as social media shares and likes on Facebook could increase a site’s rank. And ultimately we know that having traffic coming from all of your social media sites on a consistent basis is what is going to be best for your SEO.
How do you measure social media? What is the ROI? Questions that we have all asked and heard in the past finally had answers in 2012. With implementation of social tools into Google Analytics, third party applications such as Hootsuite, and the updating of Facebook Insights, measuring social traction has become possible. The importance of tracking numbers, such as Facebook LIKES and Twitter followers, are no longer the deciding factors. During 2012, we saw things such as WHO are your Facebook LIKES, how are they engaging, and how often are Twitter followers visiting your site and converting, becoming more relevant in determining social media success.
Many agents across the country say that they have LinkedIn profiles that they use to accept connections from those who request them, and possibly check into prospects. LinkedIn has been updating how a user can interact with their company page. Company pages on LinkedIn now allow user updates, a cover photo, the sharing of attachments and images, and the ability to feature a group that the company might admin or feel is important to their business. So why is this good news? Now that you can interact more with LinkedIn company pages, you can have another place to share blog posts, insurance articles, news and pieces of advice. You can also add the products your agency offers and get specific recommendations under each section. This will help increase the traffic to your insurance website, and LinkedIn is a great referral website.
Facebook’s Social Search
Facebook announced this month that they will be introducing the social graph search. This will allow users to search their Facebook content and search for recommendations and answers based on their friends’ likes and hobbies. What do you think social search will mean for local business?
This year will bring many changes in social media, how people search, what they search, and how local businesses and your agency are affected. Be sure to follow Insurance Marketing HQ and the Astonish Facebook Page for updates!Continue Reading »
Have yet to sign up for the E-Agent Summit? We have gathered 10 reasons why this is an event not to be missed. Who should attend? Astonish welcomes agents, producers, agency principals, bloggers, and more to attend the 4th annual summit this year in Orlando, Florida. Here are 10 reasons you should join us on October 28-30th at the Bonnet Creek Resort:
When you aren’t attending the keynote or breakout sessions, you can network with other agency principals, CSR’s, Marketing Managers, and more! The summit is a great opportunity to meet other agency personnel, marketing experts, and industry veterans to share knowledge, ask questions, and participate in conversation.
The list of speakers keeps growing. Besides the ALL NEW keynote address by our own Adam DeGraide and Tim Sawyer, some of the speakers featured are Dr. William T. Hold, of the National Alliance, Dennis Chookaszian, Chairman of FASAC, Don Phin, President of HR that Works, and Eric Jansen of FS Marketing Solutions. Come listen and learn from the best in the industry on a diverse group of topics. New speakers being added daily.
3. Social Media
Not sure how to use social media at your agency quite yet? Or maybe you already use social media but want to take it to the next level. This year, we have added specific social media courses that include not only Astonish’s best practices, but insight from agency leaders and bloggers on how they use different social platforms to grow their business.
4. Industry Experts
All of the speakers are experts in their given industry. Learn how to round out policies from the top insurance trainers in the nation, how to grow your business online from consulting executives, how to hire employees from HR professionals, and of course how to FIND, SELL, and KEEP customers and grow your business from those who have done so.
Does this point even need explaining? This year’s summit is at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort in Orlando, Florida. Not only does the hotel have direct complimentary transportation to Disney World for your family that joins the trip, it is located only 30 minutes from Orlando International Airport, and within miles of the area’s top attractions! Did we mention all summit guests receive a 10% discount at the hotel spa?
6. Breakout sessions
If you attended last year’s summit in Las Vegas, you remember the many breakout sessions Astonish had on topics from sales to Facebook. We took your feedback and this year, we have added even MORE sessions for you to attend. Check out the agenda to see what sessions are being added daily!
7. Speak to those who have been there
The E-Agent Summit is an opportunity for you to meet other agents who have been in your position. Ask them how they grew their agency, how they got employee buy in, and how they utilized the Astonish system to change their businesses and their lives! See some of the 2011 E-Agent testimonials.
8. Find Solutions
Each sponsor of this year’s summit has something to offer you. Whether it is a digital marketing system, educational classes, online subscriptions, or an HR program, many of this year’s vendors are happy to discuss how they can help your agency. Not sure what the next step is? We can help! Astonish representatives will be onsite to direct you to the right person to discuss the solution you may need.
9. Golf Tournament
Love to Golf? We have added to the agenda a summit only golf tournament at the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club on Tuesday October 20th starting at 1:00 PM. Bring your clubs or rent them there, but if you are a golf lover, this is not an event to miss!
10. Have fun!
What is the second best part of conferences besides taking away amazing information? Having a good time with other industry professionals! While at the E-Agent Summit be sure to check out the on location spa, go swimming in their 3-acre Florida-style lazy pool, have the family go to Disney World, or join us on Day 2 for a dinner reception with entertainment provided by ARANDA!
Be sure to sign up today for the 2012 E-Agent Summit. Sign up before the end of August to receive a 25% discount when purchasing two or more tickets. Questions? Shoot us an email or give us a call at 888.577.7691. See you in October!
If press release distribution is part of your Internet Marketing strategy, you’re on the right track with your insurance marketing strategies. However, you may wonder how valuable these optimized releases are when you take a look at your news release summary reports. Was the release picked up by relevant news outlets? Have you received any media inquiries? If the answers to these questions are “yes,” great! But you can do better.
Taking a holistic approach with your internet marketing strategy by interweaving your press release content within your blogs and social media updates can really boost your results. Consider this recent story published on one of Mediabistro.com’s blogs. The #CancersNoJoke campaign from @AbolishCancer, which focused on raising awareness for the need for bone marrow donors across the U.S., ran for one week on Twitter. After spending just $200 on creating a press release, the team behind the campaign was able to gain 22 million unique impressions by spreading the word on the social media site. So, what does this mean for you?
If you want to make the most of your press releases, don’t forget to share them on your blog and social media pages. Create a hashtag on Twitter so that you and your followers can spread the word about your press release content more effectively, and so you’ll be able to easily track how many people are talking about your release on the social platform. While it’s important to engage in press release distribution, social media and blogging, don’t do each of these separately; use all three combined to reach more potential customers. Even if your business needs a little social networking training before you get started, it will certainly pay off in the results!
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LinkedIn is a great resource to use to brand yourself professionally and your business. But how do you go about using it? The Insurance Marketing HQ team has put together some simple steps to help insurance agents get started with LinkedIn and utilizing it in an effective manner.
Generally LinkedIn is a place to network and connect with other businesses, their owners, and employees. It all does back to the goal of social media for insurance marketing—to get your agency brand and name out there, and find leads via social networking and share your expertise.Continue Reading »
It is no secret that Twitter is a popular social medium to network and connect with people in your industry and community, but how can you leverage it to search for leads?
Twitter gives you the capability to build relationships and network one-on-one with people sharing advice, recommendations, and newsworthy links. But how can an independent insurance agency leverage Twitter to find leads? Here are some ways to start.
1) Use Twitter Directories.
Registering your Twitter handle to online directories cannot only help people find you, but help you find the right people to create your network. Sites such as Twellow.com and Wefollow.com have great search resources to use in starting your search for tweeps! For example Twellow.com has two different search options. You can use the map to search a broad region or search on a more specific area like the town that your agency IS in. You can also search by industry, niche, or topic. If you are an agency trying to sell more Missouri life insurance, you would search in Missouri under “families, doctors, and professionals”; people who you think could be potential clients.
2) Use Twitter Search.
Search.twitter.com is one way, and you can also search on the Twitter homepage or on any desktop application such as Hootsuite or Seesmic. You should be looking for geo-specific terms along with insurance related terms. People use Twitter to ask questions and for recommendations. So if someone tweets about needing auto insurance in your area why would you not be there to answer them? Searching on Twitter cannot only help you find people to follow but can also help you find the consumers who are looking for insurance advice or even an insurance agency. Imagine being the first one to respond to someone asking about a quote in your area. The dedication and customer service level of your agency shows right there.
3) Use Hashtags.
Hashtags are most often used to categorize tweets. Even today, hashtags are becoming a way for people to express (in short) what they are thinking. Hashtags also help people join a given conversation and give them an opportunity to comment on how they feel about a certain topic. But using hashtags for insurance-related tweets can help people find what they are looking for. Using #insurance, #auto #insurance, #California, #insuranceagents can all help categorize your tweets that consumers will see in search when looking for a possible recommendation. It also allows you to be more specific about the message you are sending out.
I am sure there are other similar plugins out there, but one I have used is InboxQ for Seesmic, the Twitter desktop management platform. InboxQ allows you to create campaigns for different Twitter accounts using particular keywords you are interested in. You can also set the permissions based on the quantity and quality of the results you want to see. This is a newer tool but a great one to experiment with when searching for particular keywords.
5) Keyword Use on Twitter.
As I mentioned above, keywords are important. Google has confirmed that they incorporate social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in their search results. Using your insurance keywords in tweets can help your search results over time, similar to using them in blog posts. The more people that re-tweet certain blogs you post will also help the ranking of that link. The search engines see that the more that people “like” a certain link by re-tweeting and sharing it, the more relevant the content is to the search query for those keywords. Ultimately they can be incorporated into the search results.
Still don’t think Twitter is valuable? It is all about engagement and usage. Having Twitter is one thing, but using it correctly is another. Putting the time and effort into creating the RIGHT community for your agency and networking with potential/current clients, along with industry leaders can build your following. Between building trust and relationships, along with searching for leads, Twitter can be a power tool in the insurance business.
Have you found a lead using Twitter previously? Share it below!
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On Thursday we held the first of many Astonish sponsored webinars with NetVU, a national member organization committed to providing advocacy and world-class education to independent insurance agencies across the country. The webinar covered social media marketing tactics for the independent agency including Facebook, Twitter, and social media ROI.
As more businesses are adapting to social media, and recognizing it as a new marketplace, it is important for independent insurance agencies to follow suit and take the social leap as well. With direct writers and customers already using social media on a daily basis, it is critical for the independent agency to place itself in the forefront of the consumers mind on a consistent basis.
In the webinar Social Media Networking 101 for the Independent Insurance Agency we went through not only why social media is important in marketing to your potential customers, but how utilizing social platforms can also help you connect with current customers, inevitably leading to new policies, better customer service, and even referrals.
We covered Facebook marketing for the independent agent. Discussing ways to drive more traffic to your Facebook fan page, along with effectively interacting with your community on the platform. Making sure to not just build a community and post, but also taking the next step and engage with them on a consistent basis, will bring the best results from Facebook usage. Along with Facebook we also discussed how Twitter can be used to network through individual personnel and why building relationships with those who will promote you to others, could eventually turn into a lead. Remember, insurance is not always on the modern consumer’s mind, but everyone does need it! So positioning yourself successfully in the forefront of the consumers mind, in your target areas, is where you need to be.
Many agents know they need to be using social media but aren’t really sure where to start. Getting started with social media as an independent agent does not need to cost a ton of money or take away massive amounts of your time. As an agency principal or producer you need to be running your business and selling insurance. That is why hiring a social media engineer or intern can help you allocate the social media marketing duties to someone who can spend the time to do it the right way.
At the conclusion of the webinar we had a few questions come in based on the presentation. Here is the recap:
1. What is LinkedIn? Is this another social network? – Ann
Great question Ann. LinkedIn is another commonly used social media platform. LinkedIn is a business orientated social networking site that allows you to create a personal profile highlighting your job experiences and industry expertise. LinkedIn is a great resource to connect with other business owners in your own industry and other industries that you might have a niche product in. I highly recommend creating a LinkedIn profile along with a company page on LinkedIn to showcase your expertise as an insurance agent or agency owner, along with use the groups and the questions feature to build reputation and network with current and potential clients.
2. How often should I be posting on Facebook? What about Twitter? – Kelly
On Facebook posting every few hours is usually what I would recommend. You do not want to be posting five times in a row and flooding users’ newsfeeds but you want to have posts throughout the day to reach the maximum amount of people in your community as possible. Also people use Facebook at different times of the day and their newsfeed updates in real-time. So by posting at different times throughout the day you are most likely to have your message be seen. If you do not post weekly, users in your community may not see the relevance in liking your page because you are not providing timely updates. For Twitter you can post more often as the Twitter stream updates at a faster paste due to the amount of updates and the shortened message. Again with Twitter, not posting for a while might turn off some of your followers, so keeping a consistent presence and staying SOCIAL will allow your following and community to grow on both sites. Thanks Kelly!
3. If we have a company Facebook, and have individuals in the office responding/posting, how can we make it clear that a specific individual is answering rather than the company as a whole? – Melanie
Great question Melanie, I hear this a lot. To make it clear which individual is posting on your Facebook page you can do one of three things. You could have the person write the post then do a “ – Name Here” at the end to show who each post was written by, therefore having you fans learn the names of the agents who are posting. Another option is to not have someone be an admin of the page, but to create a personal Facebook that is just for business use. They could become the ‘face’ of social media for the agency and post on the wall as so, so people see the name and face of the agent who is updating the statuses. The third option I think is the best. Facebook now allows you to post as the page or as yourself. To make sure when you switch to yourself it still does not post to the page because you are an admin, go to edit page, settings, and uncheck the first box that is next to “posting options”. This will allow you to post on the page as either yourself or as the agency.
If you attended the webinar and still have questions feel free to email email@example.com to contact our team! If you are interested in Astonish Results and want to see a free virtual presentation on how you can bring your agency into the digital age call 1.888.899.1936 or visit AstonishResults.com and fill out the online form.
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Have you ever asked yourself if you believe? Believing is one of the most important aspects your agency must have if you want to increase sales. As Astonish Results CEO Adam DeGraide says, you must believe in yourself, the place you work, and the products you offer if you want to be successful.
If you walk into work every day with a negative attitude you are already set for failure and it is going to come across that way to the people that surround you. Having self-confidence is number one. Confidence is a trait that will make you happier, and the customer happier, because people feel better about a decision you are telling them to make, if you yourself are confident in it. Next, is believing that you can help the customer. The customer doesn’t want you to sell them something; they want you to HELP them buy something. Truly wanting to help your customers is a trait that will come off in a sales call. Showing that you are there to help them get the best rate and are willing to go the extra step when they file a claim will only deepen the level of trust you have instilled.
The second thing you must believe in is the place you work. Understanding the culture of the agency in which you work will help you feel in place, and your insurance agency culture is something you can use to differentiate your agency from competitors. If you aren’t sure what the agency stands for, ask your agency principal. Why did you start this agency? What is the message we want to get across to our customers? And if you are the agency owner, I would think about these questions. As the principal, showing your agents that YOU believe will only help them on their path to success.
The third part of your agency that you must believe in is the products you sell. You can’t sell anything in any business if you do not truly believe that it is the best choice out there for your customers. When following up with a lead the customer can tell if you are insincere about the product you are offering. Believing in the insurance policy you are offering them, that it will help them and is the best possible policy they can get, will shine through in your voice and attitude.
So ask yourself again. Do you believe in yourself, your agency, and the products you sell? If you answer no to any of these questions, then take a step back and assess the situation. Look for inspiration in yourself. Ask the most optimistic person in the office what they believe in, or approach your agency principal to better understand the culture at your agency. And lastly, believe in what you’re selling. If you can’t convince yourself a product is great, how can you convince the customer?Continue Reading »
During the recent #Inschat the discussion surrounded the topic of blogging. Insurance Marketing chat contributor @NicoleYeary shared a great statistic at the end of the chat showing that 14,409 people were reached by #Inschat tweets!
The conversation discussed blogging content, SEO, commenting, and more. Check below for the #Inschat round-up where we have grabbed some of the key tweets that contributed to the conversation. Full transcript available at the bottom.
Question #1—What are some good ways to promote your blog?
Question #2—Do you have a blog commenting strategy?
@doubleicf: Yes! I keep a running list of sites I hit weekly RT @LloydProGrp: Dont forget to bookmark everything and your other friends too! #inschat
@BrownstoneInsur: A2 – No strategy per say. I simply have a few key blogs I regularly read and offer further insight or interaction. #INSchat
@Berrys_Amanda: RT @Astonish_Kelly: Q2: I have a network of other #bloggers that I follow; I always try to comment on their posts ASAP after I post to generate convo #INSchat
@astonish_alicia: Q2: Finding relevant posts and posting a genuine comment and link! #Inschat
@IIABNY: Q2. No formal strategy on commenting, but I find comments are most helpful when they expand a point or introduce a new perspective #inschat
Question #3—Where do you look when you are stuck for content ideas?
@GarryInsurance: Q3: I try to use experiences like a few weeks ago I put my car in the ditch & used Roadside Assistance – So I blogged about it! #INSchat
@kellydavis226: Q3: my google reader – I subscribe to relevant blogs and there’s always new stuff to read, all in one place. Great inspiration! #INSchat
@maia_melissa: Q3: I rummage thru the search engine terms that brought people to the blog to begin with. #inschat
@iWebHound: Q3 – Take notes if you exhibit at tradeshows. We did a blog post about FAQ we heard. Seemed to get a lot of curious people clicking #INSchat
@AskTim: @maia_melissa @ReyInsurance I just did a blog post this morning based on a client question. #inschat
Question #4—What is the best way to optimize a blog post?
@PRnick: A4L: Write posts with SEO keywords, use keyword as links to relevant pages, SEO plugin, intriguing titles (w/ keywords of course) #inschat
@GarryInsurance: Q4: Using the same back link terms from post to post to keep it consistent #INSchat
@Astonish_Kelly: Q4 I try to optimize all images too! putting keywords in the ALT text & captions of photos in your post is an easy way to start! #INSchat
@ReyInsurance: hyperlink content to other sites? RT @InsuranceMHQ: Q4: What are the best ways to optimize a blog post? #seo #inschat
Question #5—Lets share blog links for networking!
Thank you to everyone who participated. If you were part of #Inschat and we forgot to add your blog just let us know! The next insurance marketing chat will take place next month; time and topic to be determined.
View the entire #Inschat transcript here.Continue Reading »
After a month off for the holidays it is time for the next Insurance Marketing Twitter Chat (#INSchat). The next #INSchat will be taking place this Friday at 2 p.m. EST. The second #INSchat featured questions on blogging; such as how to gett started and how to effectively build a community around your blog. The upcoming Insurance Twitter Chat is going to continue the conversation. Blogging is such a large topic that we have decided to discuss it again in more depth.
The definition of a blog according to dictionary.com is:
“a journal written online and accessible to users of the internet”
But we all know it is much more than that. A blog is a way to communicate with your industry, community, and the others on web. Most bloggers blog about specific topics which are usually assocuated with their interests or involves their line of work. Some companies blog about what is going on inside the walls of their office and offer advice based on their industry knowledge. Blogging is sharing your knowledge and ideas with others and creating a community within itself.
On Friday’s #INSchat we will be discussing all things blogging in the insurance industry. Discussion will range from content ideas to how to encourage comments, where you should be linking, and how to grow your blog’s readership.
If you have never participated in a twitter chat check out the post on how to participate in #INSchat and join us at 2:00 p.m. EST this Friday the 28th! If anyone has any great questions ideas for Friday let us know. You can email myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a tweet over to @InsuranceMHQ.Continue Reading »
The most important part of the sales process is the sales person. When you wake up in the morning do you dread getting out of bed to face the day ahead of you or are you excited because it is going to be a great day no matter what?
Having a positive attitude is something that is important not only in sales but in everyday life. Being negative only brings others around you down. If you approach everyday and every new situation with a positive attitude then you will have more energy. A positive attitude and increased energy produce results. You will become more effective and efficient in your everyday life including the workplace.
Astonish Results CEO and Co-Founder, Adam DeGraide, says that he jumps out of bed in the morning ready to seize the day no matter what lies ahead of him or what challenges he may face. He says purpose, passion, and meaning are what keep him going.
Everyone that you come across has a story. Of course there are things happening in other people’s lives that are positive and negative. But if you come into a situation with the best outlook possible, you can only rub off on others.
How do you try and stay positive every day?
Watch the Astonishing Coaching video below to see all the ways Adam uses his positive attitude to increase his productivity:Continue Reading »